Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Dolphins to dive in this weekend


About 20 Haines Dolphins will make their season debuts this weekend at a meet in Whitehorse, Y.T.

“This is a really low-key meet,” said coach Robert Butker. “It’s a good warm-up for the season; it’s not super-competitive, so everybody’s invited.”

The Haines contingent heading to the meet, about half of the entire Dolphin squad, will swim in a longer pool, with events measured in meters instead of yards.

“It’s cool when we go there and our times drop,” said Butker, who is in his second year coaching the team. Marian Carlson, Diana Mallory and Darren Pattison also have helped with coaching.

The team has “A,” “B” and “C” squads, with tailored workouts. Practices have focused on proper starts, turns and finishes, with the oldest kids swimming more than 4,000 yards in an afternoon.

“If kids want to join, they should just show up,” Butker said. “They can swim for a couple days and try it out, and then they can join the team if they want.”

The youngest swimmers, roughly 7 and under, have a lighter workload of around 800 yards per practice, he said.

“We practiced butterfly kicks today,” 6-year-old Selby Long said this week. She said practices have been fun, and she’s “not really nervous” for her first swim meet.

The Dolphin season stretches into April. The early schedule includes meets in Petersburg and Juneau, followed by the annual Winter Games at the Haines pool in January.

 “We have a lot of cross-training athletes on this team,” Butker said. “We do have some very serious swimmers, but I would say about 80 percent of our swimming body are recreational swimmers that are really just kind of looking to stay in shape, burn some calories, have some fun, and have a wintertime activity that lasts the entire duration of the school year.”

The Dolphins in 2014 again will host their annual Swim-a-Thon fundraiser, which Sally Chapell, 9, said is her favorite activity of the season. Last year, she swam 100 lengths of the pool at the event.

For more information on signing up for the team, visit Scholarships are available to assist with team dues.

“The pool is a community asset, and the swim team is not only one of the largest youth organizations in Haines outside of the school, but the primary benefactor of the pool,” Butker said. “The more kids we can get here, the better for everyone.”